Friday 29 May 2015

A Good Face For Radio?

I'm involved in a community radio play project. Littlewich Ways Productions is an idea from a member of our village drama group. Many actors can't commit to line-learning and/or rehearsals; some older members are no longer comfortable on stage and newer members may lack the confidence.

So Littlewich Ways was born. Think The Archers and you'll be on the right track - only our characters are funnier. Life in small Cheshire village peppered with black comedy and exploring human relationships in a series of short radio plays. Actors come from the community itself. Some are members of the drama group; others are not, but we're all having fun being creative!

A small script-writing team (of which I am a member) meets each week in the local pub, where we come up with new and interesting ways to torture our characters. We also read and review each others' scripts and provide feedback and support.

I've not done much scriptwriting. I tried my hand at writing the screenplay for my novel Hamelin's Child. It's not easy. I'm not a 'visual' writer - I prefer to get into people's heads and find out what makes them tick. Up close and personal, I have a lot of thoughts on the page of a book, which doesn't translate to the medium of film. It was an interesting exercise and I learned a lot, but I think I'll wait and maybe one day the amazingly-talented Jimmy McGovern will write the screenplay of my books!

I also wrote an episode of White Witch - a Dr Who spin-off drama narrated by actress Damaris Hayman (and available to buy on DVD at Galaxy 4). So far that's my only professional credit, so I'm still learning!

But radio scripts are a whole different ballgame again. It took us several episodes to realise that radio scripts have to be just a little over-the-top, exaggerated, hammed-up even. You only have one of the five senses to engage. Start a scene and how do you know who is talking? Giving every character a different accent would get tiring to listen to after a while, so you have to name-drop in the first few lines so that the listener can get an immediate grasp on who is there. Similarly sound-effects become much more important - you can't 'hear' a sunny outdoor scene, so you have to convey it in birdsong, children playing, wind, the occasional car, the non-echo of a voice spoken outdoors.

We're in the local paper and appearing at Northwich Literary Festival next week on Tuesday 9th June where we'll be talking about Littlewich and its inhabitants and what we've got lined-up next for them.....

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